Why Picking Sides in Libya Won’t Work
Here is my latest in FP with Mattia Toaldo of ECFR on what America needs to do and not do in Libya.
Since the ouster of Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has reverted to a patchwork of city-states loosely governed by warlords, city councils, and tribal networks. The UN-led talks set to resume this week in Morocco will try to reconcile the two loose coalitions that have been facing each other since last summer. One is the internationally recognized government based in the eastern city of Tobruk and its military wing, Operation Dignity, led by General Khalifa Haftar. The other is the Tripoli government installed by the Libya Dawn coalition, which combines Islamist militias with armed groups from the city of Misrata. The Islamic State has recently established itself as a third force that now aims to scupper any chance for reconciliation between the two blocs and thus to profit from the ensuing chaos….
As a result of its international recognition and military support from the Egyptians and the Emiratis, Tobruk has few incentives to negotiate and is willing to take provocative actions to undermine potential progress. It is time for Western leaders to recognize that the Tobruk government is not in a position to address any of the West’s key strategic concerns. Ultimately, the Tobruk parliament is just one actor in Libya’s multipronged civil war. It is not a neutral government that can lead the country out of its present chaos. Moreover, the parliament was deemed unconstitutional in a November 2014 Libyan Supreme Court decision, one to which the major powers have not yet formally reacted. The Europeans and Americans should draw upon the precedent of this decision and take it one step further: they should end their recognition of the Tobruk parliament and state clearly that they will deal only with a national unity government that emerges from the UN-led talks. Until then, the international community will consider ministers from both governments to be representatives of warring factions, thus publicly acknowledging what many have long admitted in private: that all parties in Libya lack the basic attributes of sovereignty…. To read the full article click here.